OZ Info #4


Aboriginal - Tribes - Land - Dreamtime



The Eastern and Central Arrernte people live in Central Australia, their traditional land including the area of Alice Springs and East MacDonnell Ranges. They are also referred to as Aranda, Arrarnta, Arunta, and other similar spellings. Their neighbours are the Southern Arrernte, Luritja, Anmatyerr, Alyawarr and Western Arrernte peoples. There are five dialects of the Arrernte language: South-eastern, Central, Northern, Eastern and North-eastern.
Arrernte country is rich with mountain ranges, waterholes, and gorges; as a result the Arrernte people set aside 'conservation areas' in which various species are protected.
Arrernte people maintain a strong presence in Alice Springs, and have formed the Arrernte Council of Central Australia, as well playing a major role in the Aboriginal organisations in Alice Springs. Many Arrernte people also live in communities outside of Alice Springs and on outstations.
There are roughly 1800 speakers of Eastern and Central Arrernte, making it the largest spoken language in the Arandic family, and one of the largest speaking populations of any

Australian language. It is taught in schools, heard in local media and local government.

The Arrernte speaking people were those who occupied most of the choice regions in the Mac Donnell Ranges. Their territory stretched about 110 kilometres to both West and East and was about 330 kilometres in extent from North and South.
Though forming one language group, the Arrernte were divided into six sub groups, each with its particular territory. These sub-groups were further divided into small family or kin groups, all bound by the very rigid system of authority governed by intermarriage and movements over another group Estate .
The boundaries of Estates of these sub groups were fixed by the ancestral being and varied greatly in size.
In the 1880's Dick "Penangke" Taylor was born at Mount Boal , and over the next 86 years, he had 9 children. From his First wife Mary, Harry , Alex , Alison , Willy , Sam , Peter , Myra ( Kanikiya) , and Mavis. From his second wife , he had a son Robert.
Altogether there are now 36 grand children and 126 great grand children that makes up the Pwerte Marnte Marnte Aboriginal Corporation , (a community as it is known today).

It is difficult for others to appreciate this identity, as the anthropologist Professor W.E.H. Stanner found when he tried to put it into words for non-Aboriginals to understand :
"No English words are good enough to give a sense of the links between an Aboriginal group and its homeland. Our word "home", warm and suggestive though it be, does not match the Aboriginal word that may mean "camp", "heart", "country", "everlasting home", "totem place", "life source", "spirit centre", and much else all in one. Our word "land" is too spare and meagre. We can now scarcely use it except with economic overtones unless we happen to be poets.
The Aboriginal would speak of "earth and use the word in a richly symbolic way to mean his "shoulder" or his "side". I have seen an Aboriginal embrace the earth he walked on. To put our words "home" and "land" together into "homeland" is a little better but not much. A different tradition leaves us tongueless and earless towards this other world of meaning and significance. When we took what we call "land" we took what to them meant home, the source and locus of life, and everlastingness of spirit.

They say we have been here for 40 000 years, but it is much longer - We have been here since time began We have come directly out of the Dreamtime of our creative ancestors - We have kept the earth as it was on the first day. Our culture is focused on recording the origins of life.
We refer to forces and powers that created the world as creative ancestors.
Our beautiful world has been created only in accordance with the power, wisdom and intentions of our ancestral beings.

During the creation of our world , the ancestors moved across a barren land, hunting, camping, fighting and loving and in doing so shaped a featureless landscape.
Moving from Dreams to actions, the ancestors made the ants, the emus, the crows, the possums, the wallabies, the kangaroos, the lizard, the goanna, the snakes and all the food and plants.
They made the sun, the moon and the planets. They made the

humans, tribes and clans.
Each could transform into the other. A plant could become an

animal, an animal a landform, a landform a man or a woman.


Everything was created from the same source.
Everything was created in our Dreamtime.

As the world took shape and was filled with species and

varieties of the ancestral tranformations,

the ancestors tired and retired into:


* the earth
* the sky
* the clouds
* and the creatures to live within all their created
* In our Dreamtime